After watching any movie, I would rarely find that the casting was allright. I would say at least a few characters could have been better with some other artists or some negative thoughts like that. For the first time, I think, I watch a film and feel the casting is 110% perfect and all the more the performances are 200%, more than perfect, actually its unbelievable. I had seen Secrets & Lies by Mr. Leigh and was impressed. But to be frank, it didnt impress me as much to just go and find more movies from him. I watch Another Year, his latest movie and I have to say, I am impressed, no am bloody impressed, that I am going to watch all his other movies. To make beautiful movies on human life without any script is an unbelievable art.
Tom and Gerri is an old, working couple. They have more than a content life and does not have any real issues at this point of life. Some of their friends and family including their son, Joe, visits them and the conversations are mostly about the difficulties of the visitor.
In one sentence Another Year is a beautiful movie about ageing and loneliness. Fun at times and sad at times.
The movie is told through four seasons in the life of Tom and Gerri and the different characters who need them or the characters through whom they pass their time at home. There are Mary, working together with Gerri, Ken an old friend, Ronnie who is the elder brother of Tom who just lost his wife. All these three characters are quite uncertain about their future, getting old and being alone. T&G seems to be their only solace as they patiently listen to all their grievances and show some compassion, which is lacking elsewhere. At the same time, at least in the beginning we do feel that T&G also needs somebody around in their bohring life, just to talk to or listen to. As their son is not with them and they are also feeling a kind of loneliness, even if they are a happy couple. However, they look more than pleased when Joe, their son, finds a girl friend who seems to enjoy their company.
What is very appreciative about the movie is, even if the whole movie is centered around T&G, it is nearly a story about the life of this hapless woman Mary. Mary who is divorced and cant find any new friend, at one point is seen almost seducing (not really but) Joe. She is so narrow minded (she knows Joe as a child) to think that since Joe is into his 30's and is not having a girl friend, he must be finding it difficult and might like her. Well, she is terribly shocked, when Joe brings his girl friend to the home. Mary is a perfect example of an almost attractive woman, who has to remain single after 40's, starved of love and sex, who can never be really independant, and turning really mean and selfish. She has two sides, one of an adolescent where she is almost innocent and the other of a really selfish and mean woman. Since I knew somebody like this, I was actually very surprised by the portraiture of Mary in this movie. Unbelievable.
And the best feature about this movie is, it could have been easily made into a drama, but it still appeals to us as a movie. It is full of dialogues between all this characters, who are all normal working class people. Everything comes out through the chats between the characters, but it is like cent percent natural talks. Not a single moment does it turns dramatic or even cinematic. Well, the reason is Mr. Leigh is famous for never using a script. He just gives some outlines to characters and the rest is upto them. The advantages are there to see. As I said, each and every dialogue and expression is natural, bloody natural. It offers some brilliant laughs in a minute and in the very next moment make us feel really sad. It is like a camera is placed in the living room in a family and the movie exactly is like taking out few pages from the lives of few English men and women.
All these characters, Tom, Gerri, Mary, Ken, Ronnie, Jo and his girl friend Katie, they all were shot from their real lives, or I would say, performances are 200%. Not a single frame is there to point to and say - see you could have bettered it. And what happens is that all this people really grow into us, even Katie who is there only for a couple of scenes has done wonderfully well. But the real star is Leslie Manville who does Mary. Amazing performance. Each and every shot of her's was brilliant.
Anybody who is single should definitely find a partner. Thats what this movie will teach you. You may find it allright to be alone at your 30's or 40's, may be. But after, there could be a time when being alone could be the worst thing to happen to a human being.